Woman dies during surge to board Ryanair flight

Paula Whitelaw hit her head during a rush to board a plane home

Cathy Adams
Friday 31 May 2019 12:15 BST
Woman dies in 'surge' to board Ryanair flight in Krakow

A woman died after falling down airport steps in a “surge” to board a Ryanair flight home.

Paula Whitelaw was flying from Krakow airport in Poland to Manchester on 20 March.

In the rush to board a bus to take them to the aircraft, several passengers tripped in a “domino effect” at the bottom of the airport stairs. Whitelaw, a 71-year-old grandmother of seven, suffered a fatal head injury as a result.

An inquest into her death at North Staffordshire Coroner’s Court heard that she was bleeding from her head after hitting the tiled floor, reports Stoke on Trent Live.

She was taken to hospital in Krakow where she was diagnosed with a brain haemorrhage and a broken collar bone. She died of cardiac arrest three weeks later on 13 April.

Her husband Tony Whitelaw told the hearing that they were called forward as priority passengers. “There was a surge of people and I was about three steps behind and I noticed my wife had fallen on the tiled floor on her right side,” he said.

He added: “There was an excited surge at the bottom of the stairs when they saw the bus, she may have stumbled or someone fell behind her. I don’t believe we’ll know exactly what happened at the front of that group of people.”

He described how passengers “gradually bunch together” when boarding aircraft, adding that he was surprised this hadn’t happened more often.

Assistant coroner Sarah Murphy recorded an accidental death.

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